(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Herb Conaway, Jr., M.D., Shavonda Sumter, Gilbert “Whip” Wilson and Benjie Wimberly to give voters greater notice of polling place changes was approved Thursday by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
The measure (A-1947) would require a county board of elections to provide notice by mail to each voter in an election district affected by a change in a polling place location that occurs within 60 days of the election. The bill also directs the board to notify the county clerk and transmit to the clerk an electronic copy of any notice that the board issues by surface mail or electronic means.
“We must do everything we can to protect the integrity of the democratic process, and that includes making it crystal clear to voters where exactly they’ll be able to vote,” said Conaway (D-Burlington). “The current requirements can cause unnecessary confusion and put the rights of voters to cast their ballot at risk. There’s really no reason for it in this day and age.”
The legislation pertains to all elections in the municipalities of a county, including all commission government elections in the county.
The bill requires the board to post and display prominently on the county’s Internet site such change in the polling place location. Under the bill’s provisions, the county board would arrange for signage to be posted outside the previous polling place to provide guidance to voters concerning the change in polling place location on the day of any election.
“This change will help ensure better participation in the democratic process by ending any confusion that can occur on Election Day when a voting site is moved,” said Sumter (D-Bergen/Passaic).
“Rather than disenfranchising voters, this change will help encourage turnout by making sure voters are in the right place on Election Day,” said Wilson (D-Camden/Gloucester).
“Let’s face it, the majority of people turn to the Internet for news and updates these days and our election laws should reflect that to help encourage voter participation,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic).
Under current law, the county board of elections in each county selects the polling places for the election districts in the municipalities of the county for all elections. The board must publish a notice in a newspaper or newspapers of general circulation throughout the county.
The notice must include polling place locations and be published once during the 30 days preceding the closing date for the registration books for the primary and general elections and once during the calendar week preceding the day of the primary and general elections.
The measure now awaits consideration by the full Assembly.